Chargers have key questions to answer

It didn't take long for San Diego Chargers Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson to set the tone for training camp.

LaDainian Tomlinson was asked his goal for the upcoming season.

"The Super Bowl," Tomlinson said. "And winning it."

Such a proclamation in years past would have some scratching their heads. Or wondering if a certain Charger had spent too much time in the San Diego sun.

The Chargers just might. They return all 22 starters and their punter and kicker from a team which won the AFC West title last year for first time since 1994.

So with a taste of the playoffs still fresh in their mouths, the Chargers are eager to return. And they want to go deeper into the playoffs than their first-round overtime loss to the Jets last season.

But no team in the NFL is perfect - and that goes for the confident Chargers. So if the Bolts really are to jolt the league again, it must answer these five questions before welcoming the Cowboys for the season-opener on Sept. 11.

1. Just who is the real Drew Brees? Can he duplicate his stunning season, in which he was the NFL comeback player of the year? Brees had 27 touchdown passes against only seven interceptions. This came on the heels of two mediocre campaigns. Philip Rivers is waiting in the wings, but first Brees wants to prove last year was no fluke.

2. Finding a pass rush is like finding a summer snowstorm in San Diego. The Chargers had but 29 sacks last year and outside linebacker Steve Foley had more than a third of them. The Chargers are dynamite against the run, but they must harass quarterbacks more to help a wobbly secondary. Top-pick Shawne Merriman just signed and will be in camp on Tuesday, but will he be ready to contribute? Defensive lineman Luis Castillo, another first-rounder, will be asked to contribute immediately. A healthy Dave Ball and a more experienced Shaun Phillips might help.

3. The No. 1 wide receiver is ... good question. Eric Parker revealed in 2004 (career highs in three categories) he might be ready to assume that role. But his slight body is a concern. Keenan McCardell has filled the post, but he's 35 years old. Reche Caldwell was headed for a big year, then wrecked his knee. He needs to rebound big.

4. Which cornerback will be Quentin Jammer's partner in the starting lineup? Sammy Davis lost his job to Drayton Florence last year because of inconsistent play and injuries. And he's already been getting burned in camp. Florence would have to be a disaster in camp to be ousted by Davis.

5. Can Nate Kaeding rebound from his heartbreaking kick, one which was wide right from 40 yards out which cost the Chargers a playoff win last season? By all accounts, yes. But it's worth watching if that one kick will burden him as the upcoming season asks for more clutch efforts.

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